Stocks tumble as coronavirus cases rise outside China
Global equity markets tumbled and the dollar slid on Thursday as the number of coronavirus cases outside China mounted rapidly, leading California to declare an emergency and HSBC in London to send more than 100 staff home. Italy’s UniCredit also told some staff to go home, while corporations around the world began issuing profit warnings, with Southwest Airlines saying it expected a hit of up to $300 million (€268 million) to its first-quarter operating revenue. In a sign of deep damage to the travel industry, British regional airline Flybe collapsed, making the struggling carrier the industry’s first big casualty of the outbreak. British commercial broadcaster ITV fell 12 per cent after warning that ad revenue for April could fall by about 10 per cent as travel companies deferred campaigns. “I thought 2020 would be the year of the election but it turns out it’s the year of the virus, and it’s going to dominate everything in the global economy this year,” said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.
Another coronavirus-dominated session saw Dublin’s Iseq index slip 1.4 per cent to 6,447. Ryanair led the slide, shedding 5 per cent to close at €11.25. Airline stocks have been hit worst by the coronavirus. Irish Ferries owner Irish Continental Group fell almost 4 per cent after being up nearly 4 per cent in the session despite reporting higher revenues and earnings for the year to the end of December. Food group Glanbia traded marginally down at €10.89, erasing gains from earlier in the week. Shares in construction company Cairn Homes fell 4 per cent after it reported an annual operating profit of €68 million earlier in the week. Packaging group Smurfit Kappa fell 1.5 per cent to €30.88 along with the global shift downwards. Elsewhere Bank of Ireland and AIB were down 1.9 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.